Former Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharraf dies in Dubai after years in exile 

Gen. Pervez Musharraf, former Pakistani president and army chief, has died. (File/AP)
Gen. Pervez Musharraf, former Pakistani president and army chief, has died. (File/AP)
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Updated 06 February 2023

Former Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharraf dies in Dubai after years in exile 

Gen. Pervez Musharraf, former Pakistani president and army chief, has died. (File/AP)
  • Ex-military dictator was under treatment at a Dubai hospital for amyloidosis, a rare disease 
  • Musharraf seized power in a bloodless 1999 coup and ruled Pakistan until 2008 

ISLAMABAD: Gen. Pervez Musharraf, former Pakistani president and army chief, passed away in Dubai, close family associates confirmed, after years of self-imposed exile in the UAE. 

Musharraf, 79, was under treatment at a Dubai hospital for amyloidosis, a rare disease, a former close aide of the military ruler and chairman of his All Pakistan Muslim League party, retired Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi, said. 

“I am in contact with the family for the repatriation of the mortal remains of the former president,” he told Arab News on Sunday. 

Another close aide, Dr. Mohammed Amjad Chaudhry, a former chairman of the APML, said the former president had been “seriously sick since 2018.” 

Chaudhry added: “When I last talked to his family about a week back, he was hospitalized.” 

The Pakistani army, navy and air chiefs, as well as the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, mourned Musharraf’s death in a statement to the press. 

“CJCSC & Services Chiefs express heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of General Pervez Musharraf,” the statement said. “May Allah bless the departed soul and give strength to the bereaved family.” 

Musharraf, the son of a career diplomat, was born in New Delhi in 1943 and migrated to the newly independent Pakistan with his family in 1947. Musharraf joined the army in 1964 and graduated from the Army Command and Staff College in Quetta. He also attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London and fought in Pakistan’s 1965 and 1971 wars against neighboring India. 

After serving in the army’s artillery, infantry and commando units, Musharraf was appointed army chief by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998 — a move Sharif would later come to regret when the military ruler ousted him in a bloodless military coup in 1999. Musharraf then served as Pakistan’s president from 2001 to 2008. 

Following the US invasion of Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, Washington sought Pakistan’s support in the “War on Terror,” and Musharraf became a close ally of the then US administration of George Bush.

He also won mass appeal in the West through his calls for Muslims to adopt a lifestyle of “enlightened moderation.” He embraced liberal economic policies during his rule that impressed business leaders, brought in foreign investment and led to annual economic growth of as much as 7.5 percent. 

Musharraf ruled as army chief until 2007 when he quit, trading the military post for a second five-year term as president. 

He stepped down as president also in 2008 over fears of being impeached by Pakistan’s ruling coalition. He subsequently left the country but returned in 2013 with the hope of regaining power as a civilian at the ballot box. He encountered a slew of criminal charges, however, and within a year, he was barred for life from running for public office. 

In 2016, after a travel ban was lifted, Musharraf left for Dubai to seek medical treatment, remaining there ever since. In 2019, a special court indicted him on treason charges in absentia, which he denied, and eventually sentenced him to death, though the ruling was later overturned by a higher court. 

During his years in power, Musharraf saw many moments of tumult. 

In 2006, a popular tribal leader from the southwestern province of Balochistan was killed in a military action ordered by Musharraf, unleashing an armed insurgency that goes on to date.

In 2007, he ordered troops to storm a mosque in Islamabad whose clerics and students were calling for the imposition of Shariah. The siege led to the birth of an indigenous Taliban movement, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has since led an insurgency against the government in Islamabad and killed tens of thousands in brazen assaults on security, government and civilian targets. 

In 2007, Musharraf demanded the resignation of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, unleashing a mass protest movement that massively dented his popularity and started calls for him to step down. 

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is the brother of three-time former PM Nawaz, whom Musharraf ousted in 1999, expressed condolences over the military ruler’s death and “sent prayers for forgiveness of the deceased and patience for the family,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. 

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Prince William thanks Poland for generosity to Ukrainians

Prince William thanks Poland for generosity to Ukrainians
Updated 12 sec ago

Prince William thanks Poland for generosity to Ukrainians

Prince William thanks Poland for generosity to Ukrainians
  • The heir to the throne’s visit to Poland underscores Britain’s support for both Ukraine and Poland
  • The UK has been one of the most outspoken supporters of bolstering NATO’s eastern flank in the face of Russia’s aggression


WARSAW, Poland: Britain’s Prince William paid tribute on Thursday to Poles who lost their lives in past wars, and expressed gratitude to the nation for what it is doing today to provide humanitarian and military support to Ukraine.
The heir to the throne’s visit to Poland underscores Britain’s support for both Ukraine and Poland, an ally on the front line of efforts to help refugees displaced by Russia’s war and to assist the Ukrainian military in fighting off the invasion.
William laid a wreath in Poland’s national colors, white and red, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and bowed his head solemnly. The memorial honors Poles who lost their lives in wars including World War II, when Polish and British soldiers were allies.
A note on the wreath that he left read: “In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
He later headed to the presidential palace for a meeting with President Andrzej Duda, who has been a prominent ally of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago. Duda’s office said their talks focused on humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
“The Prince of Wales thanked the Poles for their generosity and hospitality,” Duda’s office said.
In the final stop on his two-day visit, the prince then went to a trendy food hall where he met with young Ukrainians working or continuing their studies in Poland.
William began his surprise visit Wednesday by meeting with British and Polish troops in Rzeszow, a city of 200,000 people in southeastern Poland that has become a hub for shipments of military and humanitarian aid bound for Ukraine.
“I just wanted to come here in person to say thank you for all that you’re doing, keeping everyone safe out here and keeping an eye on what’s going on,″ William said as he spoke to the troops.
He later traveled to a center in Warsaw that houses about 300 recent arrivals from Ukraine, meeting Ukrainians and playing table tennis with children.
The UK has been one of the most outspoken supporters of bolstering NATO’s eastern flank in the face of Russia’s aggression. The country sent troops to Poland and the Baltic states and provided more than 2.3 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) of military aid to Ukraine. It also has pledged 220 million pounds ($269 million) of humanitarian assistance.
Deploying the popular 40-year-old prince, a military veteran who also worked as a civilian air-sea rescue pilot, offers a more personal touch. While British political leaders have visited Poland regularly to trumpet their support for NATO and the Ukrainian cause, a senior royal like William is a symbol of the nation who can thank military personnel for their service without the baggage of party politics.

US lawmakers turn focus to plight of Uyghurs in China

US lawmakers turn focus to plight of Uyghurs in China
Updated 24 March 2023

US lawmakers turn focus to plight of Uyghurs in China

US lawmakers turn focus to plight of Uyghurs in China
  • Female Uyghur detainees were held by the thousands, heads shaved, tortured and gang-raped, witness testifies
  • China is accused of sweeping over a million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minority groups into detention camps

WASHINGTON: Two women who experienced life in Chinese “reeducation” camps for Uyghurs told lawmakers Thursday of lives under imprisonment and surveillance, rape and torture as a special House committee focused on countering China shined a light on human rights abuses in the country.
Qelbinur Sidik, a member of China’s ethnic Uzbek minority who was forced to teach Chinese in separate detention facilities for Uyghur men and women, told lawmakers of male Uyghur detainees held chained and shackled in cells so tiny they had to crawl out when authorities summoned them. “They were called by numbers for interrogations. And then you would hear horrible screaming sounds from torture,” she said.
Innocent female Uyghur detainees were held by the thousands, heads shaved, in gray uniforms, Sidik said. Guards tortured the women by electric shocks and by gang rape, sometimes combining both. “And I have witnessed an 18- to 20-year-old girl” slowly bleed to death from the treatment, Sidik said.
Reeducation camps intended to drain the Uyghur inmates of their language, religious beliefs and customs forced men and women into “11 hours of brainwashing lessons on a daily basis,” testified Gulbahar Haitiwaji, a Uyghur who spent more than two years in two reeducation camps and police stations.
“Before eating, we have to praise them, say that we are grateful ... for China’s Communist Party and we are grateful for (President) Xi Jinping,” Haitiwaji said. “And after, to finish eating, we have to praise them again.”
Accused of “disorder” and detained with 30 to 40 people in a cell meant for nine, the Uyghur woman said, she and other female detainees were chained to their beds for 20 days at one point.
Detention left her gaunt. Freed and sent to France thanks to a pressure campaign by her family there in 2019, she was given more food by Chinese authorities before her release, so her appearance would not speak of her mistreatment.
In parting, Chinese officials warned Haitiwaji that “whatever I had witnessed in the concentration camp I should not talk about it,” she said. “If I do, they will retaliate against my family back home.”
The US and many other governments, the United Nations, and human rights groups accuse China of sweeping a million or more people from its Uyghur community and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minority groups into detention camps, where many have said they were tortured, sexually assaulted, and forced to abandon their language and religion. China denies the accusations, which are based on evidence including interviews with survivors and photos and satellite images from Uyghur’s home province of Xinjiang, a major hub for factories and farms in far western China.
“For a long time, some US politicians have repeatedly used Xinjiang-related issues to stir up rumors and engage in political manipulation under the pretext of human rights, in an attempt to tarnish China’s image and curb China’s development,” said Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington.
The Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang were about “countering violence, terrorism, radicalization and separatism,” the embassy spokesman insisted.
The accusations also include draconian birth control policies, all-encompassing restrictions on people’s movement and forced labor.
The early focus on the plight of Uyghurs by the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party is designed to show the Chinese government’s true nature, said Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, the committee’s Republican chairman.
“They are the first-hand witnesses to the systemic, unimaginable brutality, witnesses to the attempted elimination of a people, a culture, a civilization,” Gallagher said Thursday.
In advance of the hearing, human rights experts talked about the importance of focusing on treatment of the Uyghurs, including Elisha Wiesel. He is the son of the late Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and the author of the memoir “Night” about his experiences during the Holocaust and living in concentration camps.
“Looking at the world stage right now, it’s clear to me that there is no crime on such a massive scale taking place as what’s taking place with the Uyghur people,” Wiesel said.
Wiesel said that both the Trump and Biden administrations had been active on the topic, and pointed to passage of a bill on forced labor and sanctions against companies shown to be using forced labor of Uyghurs. “This is exactly the sort of pressure that needs to be continued,” he said.
Laura Murphy, a researcher at Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom, specializes in American businesses that draw on forced labor. She said it was important for the United States to keep identifying and penalizing companies using Uyghur forced labor.
“Most companies ... they not only don’t know, they intentionally don’t know,” Murphy said.
Outside of the sectors of cotton and components of solar panels, two industries in China that the US and others say relies heavily on forced labor by detained Uyghurs, companies that draw on supplies from China “would prefer not to look into it,” she said.
“So long as businesses continue to do business with the Uyghur region ... they are financing a genocide,” Murphy said.
The US should step up legislation rewarding companies that have shown they make no use of Uyghur forced labor, in terms of access to US markets, and increase information-sharing on companies that haven’t, she said.
The hearing also comes following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Russia to show support for President Vladimir Putin, underscoring just how badly US relations with China have deteriorated.
“What we’re seeing here is increasingly a de facto alliance against America and our allies to try and undercut our interests,” Gallagher said.
The formation of the special China committee this year was a top priority of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., but close to 150 Democrats also voted for the committee’s creation, and its work has been unusually bipartisan so far.
“This hearing is important because what happens to the Uyghur community in China impacts Americans at home,” said the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. “It’s in the goods produced with slave labor, it’s the degradation of human rights that makes the world less safe, and it’s the ceaseless persecution of Uyghurs abroad that includes those living in America.”
Haitiwaji, the ethnic Uyghur woman testifying before the committee, said she is speaking out because she feels an obligation to speak for those still languishing in detention centers. She is calling on lawmakers to follow the example of Canada, which has adopted a policy of accepting 10,000 Uyghur refugees from around the world.
“Please rescue Uyghur and other Turkic refugees, like Canada has done,” she said in her prepared remarks. “Please stop American companies from continuing to be complicit in surveilling our people and profiting from their labor.”

Biden arrives in Canada to discuss trade, migration challenges

Biden arrives in Canada to discuss trade, migration challenges
Updated 24 March 2023

Biden arrives in Canada to discuss trade, migration challenges

Biden arrives in Canada to discuss trade, migration challenges

OTTAWA: US President Joe Biden arrived Thursday in Canada where he will meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and address parliament, with reports that a deal has been struck on managing undocumented migration across the neighbors’ long border.
Trade, Canada’s anemic defense spending, and a potential international force to stabilize troubled Haiti are expected to be on the agenda in the events set largely for Friday.
As Biden flew north, there were reports that another hot button issue in the otherwise smooth relationship had been resolved through a deal to clamp down on undocumented migration by asylum seekers passing through the United States into Canada.
According to The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Canada will be able to stop illegal migrants at the Roxham Road crossing point on the frontier between New York state and Quebec.
The flow of migrants there has been a source of irritation in domestic Canadian politics, much as it is in Washington concerning illegal entries across the US-Mexico border.
The reports said that Canada has agreed in return to take in some 15,000 asylum seekers from Latin America through legal channels, a move that will ease the pressure on the southern US border.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre would not confirm the news but said “we will hear more about it from the president and the prime minister tomorrow.”
Ahead of the visit, the two sides stressed their close integration.
“I think that’s going to be the theme of this visit, that we are there making each other stronger and better,” Canada’s ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, told CBC.
But only modest, if any, progress is expected on tensions over Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act — a massive program to subsidize and kick start US-based development of electric vehicles and other clean energy products.
“We are looking for more inclusion in exactly those things,” a senior Canadian government official told reporters.
“We want a North America that is globally competitive, so that our two economies which are already so integrated, where so many businesses and jobs and supply chains rely on each other, can compete with the world and can be successful together.”
Another expected item on the agenda is the financing of the neighbors’ mutual defense pacts, both as members of NATO and their joint air defense system for North America, named NORAD.
The US government has been pressuring Canada to increase its defense spending, which in 2022 was just 1.33 percent of GDP. This is scheduled to rise to 1.59 percent from 2026 but that’s still well below the NATO alliance requirement of minimum two percent of GDP spending.
Jean-Pierre praised Canada’s contributions to the Western alliance helping Ukraine to fend off Russian invasion but said regarding the budget, “I’m sure that conversation will come up.”
Earlier Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Biden and Trudeau would discuss pleas from Haiti’s leaders for an international force to bring order to the impoverished Caribbean nation, where the authorities are unable to subdue armed gangs.

Violence flares as French protesters vent fury at Macron reform

Violence flares as French protesters vent fury at Macron reform
Updated 24 March 2023

Violence flares as French protesters vent fury at Macron reform

Violence flares as French protesters vent fury at Macron reform

PARIS: Protesters clashed with French security forces Thursday in the most serious violence yet of a three-month revolt against President Emmanuel Macron’s hugely controversial pension reform.
Almost 150 police were injured and scores of protesters arrested nationwide, the government said, as a day of protests descended into chaos in several cities including Paris, where protesters lit fires in the historic center of the city.
The uproar over the imposition of the reform — which the government chose to push through without a parliamentary vote — has turned into the biggest domestic crisis of Macron’s second term in office.
It also threatens to cast a shadow over King Charles III’s visit to France next week, his first foreign state visit as British monarch. Unions have announced fresh strikes and protests for Tuesday, the second full day of his trip.
In the southwestern city of Bordeaux, which King Charles is due to visit on Tuesday, the porch of the city hall was briefly set on fire.

The numbers in Paris and other cities were higher than in previous protest days, given new momentum by Macron’s refusal in a TV interview Wednesday to back down on the reform.
Police and protesters again clashed on the streets of the capital during a major demonstration, security forces firing tear gas and charging crowds with batons.
Some protesters lit fires in the street, setting ablaze pallets and piles of uncollected rubbish, prompting firefighters to intervene, AFP correspondents said.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that across France, 149 members of the security forces had been injured and at least 172 people arrested, including 72 in Paris.
Around 140 fires were set alight in Paris, said Darmanin, blaming “thugs” for the violence, who had come to Paris “to have a go at the cops and public buildings.”
Some 1.089 million protesters took part in demonstrations across France, the interior ministry said, putting the Paris turnout at 119,000, the highest for the capital since the movement started in January.
The nationwide figure still fell short of the 1.28 million people who marched on March 7, according to the government figures.
Unions claimed a record 3.5 million people had protested across France, and 800,000 in the capital.

In Paris, several hundred black-clad radical demonstrators were breaking windows of banks, shops and fast-food outlets, and destroying street furniture, AFP journalists witnessed.
In the northeastern city of Lille, the local police chief Thierry Courtecuisse was lightly injured by a stone.
In Paris, a video went viral of a police officer in helmet and body armor being knocked unconscious and plunging to the ground after being hit on the head by a stone.
The garbage that has accumulated in the streets due to strikes by refuse collectors proved an appealing target, protesters setting fire to the trash piled up in the city center.
“It is a right to demonstrate and make your disagreements known,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Twitter, but added: “The violence and destruction that we have seen today are unacceptable.”
Unions again appealed for peaceful protests. “We need to keep public opinion on side until the end,” said Laurent Berger, leader of the moderate CFDT.
Protesters briefly occupied the tracks at the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris, and some blocked access to Charles de Gaulle airport.
Anger surged after a defiant Macron said on Wednesday he was prepared to accept unpopularity over the pensions reform which he said was “necessary.”
Even before then, a survey on Sunday showed Macron’s personal approval rating at just 28 percent, its lowest since the anti-government “Yellow Vest” protest movement in 2018-2019.

Acting on Macron’s instructions, Borne last week invoked an article in the constitution to adopt the reform without a parliamentary vote. That sparked two no-confidence motions in parliament, which she survived — but one by a narrow margin.
Thursday’s protests were the latest in a string of nationwide stoppages that began in mid-January against the pension changes.
The ministry of energy transition on Thursday warned that kerosene supply to the capital and its airports was becoming “critical” as blockages at oil refineries continued.
Since the government imposed the reform last Thursday, nightly demonstrations have taken place across France, with young people coordinating their actions on encrypted messaging services.
There have been hundreds of arrests and accusations of heavy-handed tactics by police.
Amnesty International has expressed alarm “about the widespread use of excessive force and arbitrary arrests reported in several media outlets.”
King Charles is due to arrive Sunday, with a trip scheduled on the new strike date of Tuesday to Bordeaux.
The fire at the entrance to the city hall in Bordeaux damaged its massive wooden door and was put out after 15 minutes, mayor Pierre Hurmic said.
French public sector trade unionists have warned they will not provide red carpets during the visit, but non-striking workers are expected to roll them out.

Trump gave ‘false expectation’ of arrest: New York prosecutor

Trump gave ‘false expectation’ of arrest: New York prosecutor
Updated 24 March 2023

Trump gave ‘false expectation’ of arrest: New York prosecutor

Trump gave ‘false expectation’ of arrest: New York prosecutor

NEW YORK: Donald Trump created a “false expectation” of his imminent arrest, the New York prosecutor investigating the ex-president over hush money said Thursday, as tensions build over a possible indictment.
The comments come amid uncertainty over when a grand jury hearing the case will take a vote on charging Trump, a historic move that would inflame the 2024 election campaign in which the 76-year-old Republican is running to regain office.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office made the remarks in a letter sent to three Republican lawmakers who had written to Bragg requesting that he testify before Congress about his probe.
The Republicans — who are all chairmen of House committees — accused Bragg, a Democrat, of waging a “politically motivated prosecution” in their letter dated on Monday.
It was sent after Trump had said on Saturday, without providing any evidence, that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday, and called for supporters to “Protest, take our nation back!“
“Your letter... is an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution,” Leslie Dubeck, the general counsel for Bragg’s office wrote in Thursday’s response, seen by AFP.
“The letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene. Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry,” she added.
Trump’s post on Truth Social sparked a media frenzy and led to warnings from Democrats that his call for demonstrations could trigger a repeat of the violence his supporters unleashed at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Protests have so far been small and sporadic.
New York police have erected barricades outside Bragg’s office, Trump Tower and the Manhattan Criminal Court, where Trump would eventually appear before a judge if indicted.
He would become the first former or sitting president to ever be charged with a crime if the grand jury, a panel of citizens convened by Bragg, decides to indict.
The jury was not expected to hear the case Thursday and does not sit on Fridays, meaning any decision would come next week at the earliest.
Bragg is investigating a $130,000 payment to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
The payment was allegedly made to stop her from going public about a liaison she says she had with Trump years earlier. Trump’s ex-lawyer-turned-adversary Michael Cohen says he made the payment on his then boss’s behalf and was later reimbursed.
If not properly accounted for, the payment could result in a misdemeanor charge for falsifying business records, experts say.
That might be raised to a felony if the false accounting was intended to cover up a second crime, such as a campaign finance violation, which is punishable by up to four years behind bars.
Legal analysts say that argument is untested and would be difficult to prove in court. Any jail time is far from certain.
Trump denies the affair. He repeated on Truth Social Thursday that Bragg has “no case.”
Trump is facing several criminal investigations at the state and federal level over possible wrongdoing that threaten his new run at the White House, many more serious than the Manhattan case.
They include his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state of Georgia, his handling of classified documents, and his possible involvement in the January 6 rioting.
Some observers believe an indictment bodes ill for Trump’s 2024 chances, while others say it could boost his support.